Civil society calls for changes in Transgender Bill

New Delhi, Aug 22 (IANS) Members of civil society groups on Monday urged the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to address the many “shortcomings” of the Transgender Bill, before passing it.

Members of ‘Sangama’ and ‘Reach Law’, two Bangalore-based minority rights group, presented a chapter wise review of ‘The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill’, 2016, introduced in Lok Sabha on August 2, to bring to notice the Bill’s flaws and gaps with respect to transgenders’ abuse, rehabilitation, education, and equal status in the society.

Among its many shortcomings discussed, they strongly opposed the use of ‘biological test’ to pronounce a person as transgender as proposed in the draft bill and advocated for the use of ‘psychological test’ instead. They also recommended to the ministry to extend reservation in educational institutes and for public appointments to transgender persons.

They also demanded removal of the derogatory words such as “chakka, ombotthu, gandu etc.” and the removal of the term ‘Third gender’ to refer to transgenders as they’re discriminatory.

B.T. Venkatesh, former public prosecuter, Karnataka High Court, and a lawyer with Reach Law, told IANS that the term ‘third gender’ is discriminatory and has emerged from a patriarchal mindset.

“Third to what? who are first and second?”, he said.

“The proposed Bill is far from inclusive and there many flaws in it. Government must make changes in the corresponding laws as well to make to wholly applicable and inclusive,” he said.

“Section 377 needs to be abolished. It’s in contradiction to what we are trying to do with the Bill. Who will identify as a transgender as long as 377 is there.. same needs to be done with domestic violence law which recognises only wife as the one who can seek redressal,” he continued.

” There always are at least 10 percent people in a given community who identify themselves as transgenders.. we also demand that sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) be struck off from the Bill as one of the criteria to be identified as transgender, as in India changing one’s sex is illegal, again a contradiction!,” Venkatesh added.

The current Bill is a redrafted version of ‘The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2015’, proposed by DMK, MP, Tiruchi Siva as a private member bill. Siva himself has in the past called the bill a “diluted” version of the original.



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